Writers around the world are notorious for taking sanctuary in cafés, fuelling up on espresso and cake while creating their next bestseller. It may seem like a cliché, but there’s actually some science behind it – a study on the effect of ambient noise on creative cognition was published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2012.

The idea is so established as fact that there are now various apps and websites offering ambient café soundtracks to help people with their productivity.

It’s nice to have a neat trick for getting your brain to think more effectively. Here are a few more sneaky study tips to get more done in less time.

Study smart, not hard

Be ruthless about doing the bare minimum for the best result. You have a lot to do and finite time in which to do it. More isn’t always better, and extra work doesn’t always translate into remarkably better results. Read the core texts required for your assessments, and focus on the essential learnings you want to graduate with. Make the time you spend studying work for you.

Make use of your ‘dead time’

It’s not that hard to chew and read at the same time – use your lunch break to get your reading done. Use your commute to read or listen to recorded lectures.

Love your librarian

In the days before Google, there were librarians. Luckily, we still have librarians, and they are magical beings full of the secrets of knowledge. In plain terms – use your uni librarian to locate specialist resources for your assignments. Librarians love it when people ask them to use their expertise in this manner. You’ll get ahead on your studies and make a librarian happy!

Use your tech

If you have group assignments, meet over Skype rather than meeting in person. It cuts out the travel time and all that negotiation over whose turn it is to host. You can share documents, use video or just text to the team. You can even use plug-ins to record your skype calls if you need to review them later.

Soak up the café ambience

As mentioned, the ambient noise of a café has been shown to assist with creativity and productivity. If you don’t have a comfy café nearby, or you can’t afford the amount of coffee you’ll have to drink to justify your presence, you can find ambient café sounds at Coffitivity, Soundrown or at the Creative Coffee Shop app.

Look at cute critters online.

No, really. Loooooook. Japan’s Hiroshima University has found that looking at cute pictures online increased productivity by 44%. It may have something to do with an evolutionary tendency to be very attentive to small, helpless things. You can read more about that, and five other ways to make your brain more productive at Lifehacker.

Share a tip

What are your sneaky tips for getting the most out of your study time? Let us know in the comments!